The Darkness - One Way Ticket To Hell...And Back
Atlantic Recording Company
Rock
10 songs (35:07)
Release year: 2005
The Darkness
Reviewed by Jeff
Major event

For the longest time I’ve been anxiously waiting for a new album from The Darkness! I was pleasantly surprised and totally blown away with their debut, "Permission To Land"; an album which sold over 3.5 million copies. For me, it was one of the freshest and dirtiest rock albums to come out since Guns N’ Roses, "Appetite For Destruction". "Permission To Land" was a straight ahead, in your face rock album full of catchy hooks and choruses. Most of all, it had some outrageous vocal performances. I was really looking forward to more of this energetic music.

So here we are two years later. The road to "One Way Ticket To Hell….And Back" has been a bumpy one. The Darkness have had some break ups and break downs; including a change in bass players and the added pressure of equaling or exceeding the expectations of the first album. Endless recording sessions and time in the studio were spent to create much of what is the end result on "One Way Ticket To Hell….And Back"

About a month and a half ago, The Darkness released a full length version of the first single and title track "One Way Ticket" on line. After hearing the song, it sounded like the band was back on track. I was somewhat pleased and hoped for the rest of the album to be in the vein of this song.

The Darkness already had a formula that could have been easily re-created for a second album. However, they chose to take another road. For starters, they decided to use producer Roy Thomas Baker (Queen) instead of Ted Templeman (Van Halen). Baker’s production values have given the band a sound and style that’s a flashback to the 70’s; incorporating elements found in bands like Queen and E.L.O..

The title track "One Way Ticket" and "Is It Just Me" are probably the only songs that come closest to those found on the first album. Overall, the majority of the songs are not as upbeat or rocking when compared to those on the first. There are more ballads on "One Way Ticket To Hell….And Back". The production, for me, is nowhere near as punchy or in your face when compared to the first. The guitars are not as predominant in the mix. The drums sound thin and cheap. Musically, The Darkness has progressed. They have utilized such instruments as pan pipes, piano, sitars and string arrangements. They have seemed to focus very much on melody, song structure and more vocally oriented songs.

Check out "Hazel Eyes"; a song with a very Irish feel thanks to marching drums and bag pipes. The harmonizing backwards guitar fills at the beginning sound very Brian May influenced. I could swear I see The Lord of the Dance when listening to this track! Even "Blind Man" has a very spiritual, religious feel with the big vocal choirs that are reminiscent of Queen songs like "Somebody To Love" and "Bohemian Rhapsody".

"Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time" is a ballad with strings and piano as well as layered vocals that screams classic E.L.O.. "Girlfriend" is a danceable upbeat track that also sounds a lot like a lost E.L.O. song in the vein of one such as "Sweet Talkin’ Woman".

I'll even go out on a limb with my descritpion of "English Country Garden". This song does have a very English feel to it. The piano runs sound like something you'd find on an Elton John album. The vocal arrangements almost border Dexy's Midnight Runners ala "Come On Eileen". As for the guitar riff, the tempo and style of it is similar to the one used in both "Turning Japanese" by The Vapors and "My Sharona" by The Knack.

This CD is going to take several spins for many listeners. I can tell you that nothing really grabbed me on the first spin. After a few more listens, some songs stood out a little more than others and began to catch on with me. There are a few filler tracks like "Bald", "Girlfriend" and "Dinner Lady Arms". In the end, "“One Way Ticket To Hell….And Back”" is a commendable effort, though nowhere near as enjoyable as "Permission To Land".

Killing Songs :
One Way Ticket, Is It Just Me, Hazel Eyes, English Country Garden, Blind Man
Jeff quoted 69 / 100
Other albums by The Darkness that we have reviewed:
The Darkness - Permission To Land reviewed by Jeff and quoted 90 / 100
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